Liverpool defender Kolo Toure revealed he turned down Ivory Coast because he did not think he deserved his place

32-year-old is now back in the international fold for their World Cup play-offs

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The Independent Football

Liverpool defender Kolo Toure turned down the chance to play for the Ivory Coast earlier this year because he did not think he warranted a place.

The 32-year-old has been recalled to the national team for the first leg of their World Cup play-off against Senegal on Saturday.

He has not played for the Elephants since January 30 - the last group game in the African Nations Cup - and missed several World Cup qualifiers, but that was by choice.

"They (national team officials) were calling me but I told them I had to prepare myself," said Toure.

"I had to take time and start playing again because when you don't play for your club it is very difficult to play for your national team.

"You need to be fit to play and I wasn't playing a lot for (Manchester) City but this is a new start for me now and I am playing for a great club.

"I have been working really hard and everyone in Ivory Coast has been waiting for me.

"When I was not playing they were talking but I knew what I was doing, I knew my qualities. I had to work, play and then go and help my national team.

"I hope my national team will go to the World Cup, which will be very important."

Toure's performances for Liverpool since his summer move have not gone unnoticed as Brendan Rodgers' side have enjoyed a good start to the season, sitting second in the league behind Arsenal only on goal difference.

But even so Toure does not feel the Reds have played to their potential yet and fully believes they are good enough for a Champions League spot.

"The most important thing now is to take it game by game," he added.

"The season is long, every game is like a final for us. We don't look forward, we just look to the next game which is the most important.

"We have good players and a great mentality and are at a fantastic club.

"We just need to play well every week and give 100 per cent for our team-mates and the fans."

Saturday's victory over Crystal Palace took Liverpool top of the table for the second time this season, albeit for 24 hours until the Gunners claimed it back.

However, Toure said such things mattered little to the players at this stage of the campaign.

"It doesn't make any difference," he said.

"It is very important to try to stay there but it is like a marathon.

"We have to keep working hard and at the end of the season we'll count the points and see how far we can go.

"We played well, got three points and are very happy and we can enjoy it but we go away for the internationals and when we come back it is like a new season starting again."

PA

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